Heart transplant recipient talks about how he managed a 185-day pre-surgery quarantine

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AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — Staying at home for a few weeks is making many of us feel anxious, so it’s hard to imagine being quarantined in a hospital for 185 days.

But that’s what happened to Rob Fettner.  The Aurora man was diagnosed with heart failure at age 21. He had his first heart transplant in 2011, but had complications and needed another one.

That meant a long term quarantine.

“I was in the hospital for 185 days while I was waiting for them to find a match, and then I was in the hospital for an additional, just a little over 30 days post that 185, once I actually received the transplant,” he said.

Fettner says he was not able to leave the unit or even go outside.  But he says having a good attitude made a big difference. 

He suggests having a good sense of humor, taking things just one day at a time and trying not to overanalyze things. 

Fettner stayed connected with friends and family through calls, video chats and mobile games.

His says his experience really correlates with what is happening now with the stay-at-home order.

“If you are feeling down, you’re feeling depressed, you are definitely not alone. We are social creatures. We want to be around people, and it’s OK to talk about it,” he said. 

Fettner is doing well now, but his immune system is suppressed, so he is already vigilant about washing hands, staying away from sick people and wiping down surfaces.

He says it takes time to adjust, but soon those things will become second nature to all of us.

Fettner is grateful for his donors, and he is grateful for nonprofits like the Donor Alliance.

April is National Donate Life month.

It’s a good time to register to be a donor.  You can do that online at DonateLifeColorado.org, or by saying “Yes” to being a donor when you get or renew a driver license or state ID.

At the time of their death, one donor can save up to eight lives through donation.

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